Malnutrition in the Southern Rhodesian Bantu

Forrest, Charles R (1953) Malnutrition in the Southern Rhodesian Bantu. MD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 13838548.pdf] PDF
Download (9MB)


1. From evidence already available, it is clear that malnutrition is rife in two widely separated centres of Central and South Africa (Kenya and Johannesburg). It is postulated that malnutrition, with local clinical variations, affects the majority of the indigenous inhabitants from the equator to the Transvaal. Until further surveys are made in the intervening districts, a dogmatic statement about the whole area cannot be made. It is suggested that malnutrition is a cause of the indifferent attainments of the Bantu race. 2. The food of the Rhodesian native has been examined in some detail. It is clear, both from Government documents and direct observation, that the diet eaten by many natives is unsatisfactory. Even the official mining rations are inadequate. Moreover, a large percentage of natives exist on allowances inferior to this scale. 3. Sixty-five per cent of Rhodesian natives show clinical, signs of malnutrition. It is considered that this estimate is conservative. 4. The vitamin A content of many African diets falls below any of the recommended minimum prophylactic doses. Diseases usually attributed to vitamin A deficiency are common in Southern Rhodesia: (a) Bitot's spots, night-blindness and xerophthalmia are frequently seen at the three ophthalmological clinics maintained by the Government Medical Service. (b) Phrynoderma is found in 37 per cent of normal natives. This condition has been observed in association with avitaminosis A, scurvy and chronic starvation. A limited investigation was carried out on the therapeutic effects of vitamin A and ascorbic acid. It was shown that these substances are curative in some cases and of no benefit in others. The aetiology of phrynoderma is complex, individual idiosyncrasy is probably a factor in its development. 5. Thiamine deficiency is uncommon and unimportant in Southern Rhodesia. 6. Pellagra and ariboflavinosis are considered together. The characteristics of these diseases are present in a minimal form in a large percentage of normal Africans. The theme of this discussion is that these syndromes are not to be regarded as specific deficiencies of certain vitamins, but manifestations of an acute episode in the process of chronic malnutrition. 7. Kwashiorkor is not only Rhodesia's most serious nutritional problem, it is a common cause of death in African children. A great many infants pass through a subclinical phase of this disease; the apparent recovery is not complete, and permanent damage is done to the tissues. The modern aetiology incriminates a high calorific diet containing inadequate proteins. The African methods of infant feeding are particularly suitable for the development of Kwashiorkor. 8. The only sources of vitamin C for many employed natives are meat and kaffir beer. The fact that so many Africans maintain health on these low intakes is practical proof that the minimum protective dose of ascorbic acid required to prevent scurvy is very small. Certain aspects of scurvy were investigated: i. Scurvy is a common and important disease in Southern Rhodesia. ii. There is no real difference in the clinical picture of the European and African disease. iii. Vitamin P is of no therapeutic value in the treatment of scurvy. iv. The association of avitaminosis C with tropical myositis was not established. 9. For practical purposes, vitamin D deficiencies do not occur in Southern Rhodesia.

Item Type: Thesis (MD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Medicine, Epidemiology, Nutrition, South African studies
Date of Award: 1953
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1953-78906
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2020 14:43
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2020 14:43

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year